Some Facts About PublishAmerica

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Joyce Scarbrough

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Jun 12, 2003, 9:11:36 PM6/12/03
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In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:

>>"The way the scam works is that they give you a contract plus a $1
advance in exchange for you signing away all rights - digital,
electronic, print, film - in perpetuity, which means that should your
book ever do good despite them giving you almost no help at all, they
will take the lion's share of whatever it makes."


The contract I signed with PublishAmerica in August 2002 does not
contain the words "in perpetuity." The contract is valid for seven
years and renewable only if both parties ratify the renewal. The
author is free to negotiate and sell film rights, compensation to be
divided 50/50 by author and publisher regardless of who initiated the
sale.


>>"You have to fully edit, proofread, and digitally prepare the book
for publication. Publish America has the necessary proprietary (Adobe
Acrobat) software to transform what you give them into something which
a third party, Lightning Books, turns into a paperback."


PublishAmerica requires only that the author send their manuscript
file in either Word or RTF format with all tabs and page numbers
removed. They then edit it for obvious errors and convert it to a PDF
file which is sent to the author as galley proofs for inspection,
final changes, and approval.


>>"Like drugs, you get the first couple free. Any you want thereafter
will cost
you two to three times the going rate for paperbacks (more if you live
in
Canada). Imagine paying upwards of $19.95 for a 200 page paperback!
Nor does
Publish America lift a finger to promote your book."


The author gets two free copies. No purchase of additional books is
ever required, but if the author wishes to purchase any copies, they
are sold to him at substantial discounts based on quantity.
PublishAmerica also sends promotional materials to Amazon.com,
BarnesandNoble.com, Booksamillion.com, and Walmart.com and
PublishAmerica books are available immediately upon release through
these sites. Trade orders (by libraries, bookstores, etc.) are
available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Brodart.


>>"So how do they make their money? This is where the scam gets really
dirty.
They expect you to take advantage of your relationship with friends
and
family. That's right, they want you to get Mom and Dad and Uncle Jack
and
everyone you know at school or work to buy the book. Just like drugs,
they
get you hooked and then lean on you to get you to push the product."


The author furnishes PublishAmerica with a mailing list of up to 100
personal contacts who are sent an announcement letter just prior to
the book's release giving the recipient a description of the book and
all the information necessary to order it if they so desire.


>>"Then, ever so gradually, they take control of your life. In my
case, they decided they didn't like my homepage on the internet and
ordered me to change it. When I refused, they suspended publication
and availability of my book until such time as I complied with their
demands. They also do their best to
control what you say. No criticism, constructive or otherwise, is
permitted.
One false move and they threaten to murder your book. And the really
sad
part is that Publish America has the power to do it. It would be far
better
to toss your manuscript in the trash than to sign away your life to
Publish
America. Don't let them do to you what they did to me!"

I don't have the facts available to me on this last part, but my
comment is that if this post is an example of what was on Mr. Dungan's
website, I can't really say that I blame PublishAmerica for taking
issue with it.

PublishAmerica is NOT a vanity publisher. An author can sign with them
and have their book published without ever paying anything except the
cost of the copyright registration to the Library of Congress.($30)

Although I certainly wish PublishAmerica launched a substantial
promotional campaign on my behalf, I knew upfront that most of the
promotion would be left up to me. (It states this on their website in
no uncertain terms.) Even so, book promotion can be done on the
internet without the author ever having to spend a dime. Sure, it's
time-consuming and takes perseverance and creativity, but it can be
done.

My book (True Blue Forever) was released in April 2003 and I have been
able to get reviews for it posted on multiple websites as well as
three newspapers so far, all through email pitches. And I just today
received a request from Jay Leno for a copy of my book.

Sorry for the length of this, (but I am a writer, you know). I just
felt compelled to present a different side to this story.

Regards,
Joyce Sterling Scarbrough
Author of True Blue Forever
http://www.authorsden.com/joycelscarbrough1
http://www.southernbelleauthor.com

James

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Jun 14, 2003, 1:37:39 AM6/14/03
to
> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> >>"The way the scam works is that they give you a contract plus a $1
> advance in exchange for you signing away all rights - digital,
> electronic, print, film - in perpetuity, which means that should your
> book ever do good despite them giving you almost no help at all, they
> will take the lion's share of whatever it makes."

As stated by Joyce, this is not true.

> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:

> >>"You have to fully edit, proofread, and digitally prepare the book
> for publication. Publish America has the necessary proprietary (Adobe
> Acrobat) software to transform what you give them into something which
> a third party, Lightning Books, turns into a paperback."

Also not true. In my contract it specifically states that PA is to
proofread AND edit my work.

> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:

> >>"Like drugs, you get the first couple free. Any you want thereafter
> will cost
> you two to three times the going rate for paperbacks (more if you live
> in
> Canada). Imagine paying upwards of $19.95 for a 200 page paperback!

Canadians recieve a 55% discount from PA. Unless the bookstore is
greedy and wants to keep the discount, a 55% discount rate with a 40%
hike will make a $19.95 paperback US $21.95 Canadian. May books from
TOR that are first run paperbacks by unknown authors (Dance of Knives
comes to mind) are that price.

> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:

> Nor does
> Publish America lift a finger to promote your book."

I have an interesting article written by Raymond Fiest about a time
when HIS publisher wouldn't promote his book due to poor advance
sales. If you want it I'd be happy to send it.

> In an earlier thread, Joyce Scarborough wrote about PublishAmerica:


> The author gets two free copies.

I got more. Contracts are made to be negotiated. Anything, within
reason, can be changed.


> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:

> >>"So how do they make their money? This is where the scam gets really
> dirty.
> They expect you to take advantage of your relationship with friends
> and
> family. That's right, they want you to get Mom and Dad and Uncle Jack
> and
> everyone you know at school or work to buy the book.

How is this different from any other publisher? If my friends and
family won't buy my book I'll be very upset!

> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:

> >>"Then, ever so gradually, they take control of your life. In my
> case, they decided they didn't like my homepage on the internet and
> ordered me to change it.

The only one I've ever heard of that happening to was a guy who posted
his entire book FOR FREE on the Internet. NO publisher would allow
that!

James

T. Nielsen Hayden

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Jun 17, 2003, 5:39:27 PM6/17/03
to
tonyn...@peoplepc.com (Joyce Scarbrough) wrote in message news:<b9eb19fd.03061...@posting.google.com>...

> In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
>
> >>"The way the scam works is that they give you a contract plus a $1
> advance in exchange for you signing away all rights - digital,
> electronic, print, film - in perpetuity, which means that should your
> book ever do good despite them giving you almost no help at all, they
> will take the lion's share of whatever it makes."

And the fact that they're using POD technology means that if your book
were to start taking off, purely on the strength of word-of-mouth
recommendations, PA wouldn't be able to supply copies to meet the
demand. A book that's selling really well needs to ship heaps of
copies, and fast.

> The contract I signed with PublishAmerica in August 2002 does not
> contain the words "in perpetuity." The contract is valid for seven
> years and renewable only if both parties ratify the renewal. The
> author is free to negotiate and sell film rights, compensation to be
> divided 50/50 by author and publisher regardless of who initiated the
> sale.

Whose name appears in the copyright notice in the front of the book?
I've heard conflicting reports about this, and would like to get it
pinned down.

Here's something you need to check: Does the contract have a clause
stating that if the publisher ceases to make copies available for
sale, you get your book back, free and clear, with no accompanying
obligations? It's called a reversion clause, and it's absolutely
standard in publishing contracts.

If you don't have a reversion clause =tied to availability for sale=,
very bad things can happen to you. There's a reason those clauses are
standard. No real agent would let you fly without one, and I'd be
extremely suspicious of any publisher that refused to give you one.

> >>"You have to fully edit, proofread, and digitally prepare the book
> for publication. Publish America has the necessary proprietary (Adobe
> Acrobat) software to transform what you give them into something which
> a third party, Lightning Books, turns into a paperback."
>
> PublishAmerica requires only that the author send their manuscript
> file in either Word or RTF format with all tabs and page numbers
> removed. They then edit it for obvious errors and convert it to a PDF
> file which is sent to the author as galley proofs for inspection,
> final changes, and approval.

That isn't anything like a full text production cycle. If you'll poke
around the web, you'll find years of messages from authors who were
bitterly disappointed with the quality of PA's production work. And
no, it wasn't always the authors' fault.

> >>"Like drugs, you get the first couple free. Any you want thereafter
> will cost you two to three times the going rate for paperbacks (more
> if you live in Canada). Imagine paying upwards of $19.95 for a 200
> page paperback! Nor does Publish America lift a finger to promote
> your book."
>
> The author gets two free copies. No purchase of additional books is
> ever required,

But no author is only going to want two copies.

> but if the author wishes to purchase any copies, they are sold
> to him at substantial discounts based on quantity. PublishAmerica
> also sends promotional materials to Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com,
> Booksamillion.com, and Walmart.com

Doesn't everyone? A little dab of promotional material is a feather
tossed in a flooding river.

> PublishAmerica books are available immediately upon release through
> these sites. Trade orders (by libraries, bookstores, etc.) are
> available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Brodart.

Which is as much as to say "they're available for sale"; but nothing
more.

> >>"So how do they make their money? This is where the scam gets really
> dirty. They expect you to take advantage of your relationship with
> They expect you to take advantage of your relationship with friends
> friends and family. That's right, they want you to get Mom and Dad
> and Uncle Jack and everyone you know at school or work to buy the book.
> Just like drugs, they get you hooked and then lean on you to get you to
> push the product."
>
> The author furnishes PublishAmerica with a mailing list of up to 100
> personal contacts who are sent an announcement letter just prior to
> the book's release giving the recipient a description of the book and
> all the information necessary to order it if they so desire.

And some will. It's natural for your friends and relatives to want to
see your book. That's where those 75-on-average sales come from

> >>"Then, ever so gradually, they take control of your life. In my
> case, they decided they didn't like my homepage on the internet and
> ordered me to change it. When I refused, they suspended publication
> and availability of my book until such time as I complied with their
> demands. They also do their best to control what you say. No
> criticism, constructive or otherwise, is permitted. One false move
> and they threaten to murder your book. And the really sad part is
> that Publish America has the power to do it. It would be far better
> to toss your manuscript in the trash than to sign away your life to
> Publish America. Don't let them do to you what they did to me!"

If this is true -- and I have heard it asserted elsewhere by other
authors -- it's a genuinely disturbing practice. In a normal
publishing contract, the publishing house is promising that they will
publish the book, and do so within a certain period of time; that they
will make it generally available for sale; and that if the book ceases
to be available, the author gets it back. The house may drag its heels
a little (though it might just as easily be prompt about it), but the
end is certain: the book will revert to the author.

Consider that if Fred Dungan is correct in saying that PA withdraws
books from the market to punish authors for publicly criticizing the
company, and that if you have no reversion clause in your contract,
you will not be able to complain, =no matter what they do=, without
risking having your book killed.

Seven years is a long time to have a book be completely out of
circulation. By the time you get it back, any sales momentum and
reader recognition will have long since turned to dust.

> I don't have the facts available to me on this last part, but my
> comment is that if this post is an example of what was on Mr. Dungan's
> website, I can't really say that I blame PublishAmerica for taking
> issue with it.

I do. First, his post may be telling you things you don't want to
hear, but it isn't offensive by any reasonable standards.

Second, his personal website is none of PA's business. They may not
like what he's saying -- which definitely comes under the common-law
doctrine of Tough Noogies -- but unless he's making actionable
statements, they have no right to make him to take it down. And if he
were making actionable statements -- which doesn't seem to have been
the case -- the appropriate response would have been to take legal
action against the site =while continuing to publish his book=.

Keeping authors in line by threatening to kill their books is NOT
standard industry practice. The history of literature is the history
of authors grousing about their publishers, justly or unjustly. It's
not grounds for retaliation. To withdraw a book from the market as a
means of putting pressure on its author would be completely
unacceptable.

> PublishAmerica is NOT a vanity publisher. An author can sign with them
> and have their book published without ever paying anything except the
> cost of the copyright registration to the Library of Congress.($30)

<*sigh*>

I'm sorry. It's a vanity publisher. They've just figured out how to
charge for publishing the book at a different point in the publishing
cycle.

The trick is that authors =always= want a bunch of copies of their
books. Between the author's copies and the friends-and-relations
copies, you can figure an average of about 75 sales per book. If the
publisher does a dead-cheap production job, and sets a very high
per-unit price for the book, they can make a profit even if the book
never sells to readers outside the friends-and-relations group.

Have you heard the term "attitudinal inherency"? It's something you
learn about in debate. To put it very simply, there's structural
inherency and there's attitudinal inherency. Structural inherency is
when you have a rule saying people have to do X thing. Attitudinal
inherency is when those people's beliefs or inclinations are so strong
and predictable that you're pretty much guaranteed they're going to do
X anyway, so you don't have to have a rule saying they have to do X.

If a publisher charged an author up front for publishing their book,
we'd all know it was a vanity press. Most of us could also spot it if
the publisher had a rule that required the writer to purchase some
large number of copies of their book before it could be printed. But
if there's anything in the world that doesn't need a rule to make it
happen, it's that authors and their families and friends will want
copies; and if you set the retail price high enough, and do a
dirt-cheap job of producing the book, you can make a sufficiently tidy
profit off just the friends-and-relations sales.

The big difference is that they've moved the sting to the point of
retail purchase, which is moderately clever. (It would be even
cleverer if they were the only vanity publisher doing it, which they
aren't.) Authors see that transaction as book sales, a good thing, not
as money being sucked out of themselves and their friends and
relations in exchange for publishing the book.

I suppose you could claim this isn't vanity publishing, just books
that don't sell very well, but the cover prices keep me from liking
that description. If you honestly think a book is going to sell to a
general readership, you set its price at a level comparable with other
books of its sort. But PA sets their prices far higher than consumers
would imaginably pay for a cheesy-looking paperback by an unknown
writer. Some of their books are priced higher than readers would pay
for a book by an author they knew and enjoyed.

When you set prices like that, you're betting against your own books.
You're saying there's no real chance they're going to be bought by
anyone who doesn't know the author, so nothing's lost by giving them
prices that guarantee they won't be bought by strangers. Instead, you
make your profit by the additional money you make putting the squeeze
on Rabbit's Friends and Relations.

This model has been made possible by several new developments. First,
there's online bookselling, which allows a vanity publisher to give
the appearance of being a bookseller when all they're doing is
shoveling titles into the maw of Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. But
since they're doing the "selling", they get to set the prices.

Second, there's the desktop publishing revolution. Pouring e-text into
a template and running a spellchecker over it is hardly what I'd call
decent book production, but if you do it badly enough it's extremely
cheap.

Third, there are the ongoing developments in binding and dry copying
technology that make it feasible to do short runs with a very low
setup charge. This sometimes gets called POD, though it isn't; POD is
a business model. This is the technology that makes that model
possible.

It's a matter of numbers. When a few hundred books can be produced
cheaply enough, and the publisher can set the cover prices high
enough, you can make a profit on just the friends-and-relations sales.
And if you can do that, you can claim that you're a real publisher, a
royalty publisher that doesn't make the author pay -- even as you're
gouging hundreds or thousands of dollars out of them.

> Although I certainly wish PublishAmerica launched a substantial
> promotional campaign on my behalf, I knew upfront that most of the
> promotion would be left up to me. (It states this on their website in
> no uncertain terms.) Even so, book promotion can be done on the
> internet without the author ever having to spend a dime. Sure, it's
> time-consuming and takes perseverance and creativity, but it can be
> done.

It is possible.

Many things are possible.

Some of them even happen.

> My book (True Blue Forever) was released in April 2003 and I have been
> able to get reviews for it posted on multiple websites as well as
> three newspapers so far, all through email pitches. And I just today
> received a request from Jay Leno for a copy of my book.

His staff sent you a polite letter that boils down to "Sure, send us a
free copy of your book, at no obligation to ourselves."

> Sorry for the length of this, (but I am a writer, you know). I just
> felt compelled to present a different side to this story.
>
> Regards,
> Joyce Sterling Scarbrough
> Author of True Blue Forever
> http://www.authorsden.com/joycelscarbrough1
> http://www.southernbelleauthor.com

I'm sorry. I know there are things you don't want to believe right
now. You love your book, as all authors love their books; and you hope
to see it do well.

I hope so too.

::T. Nielsen Hayden
::http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight

T. Nielsen Hayden

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Jun 17, 2003, 5:58:55 PM6/17/03
to
polite...@hotmail.com (James) wrote in message news:<48e9be89.03061...@posting.google.com>...

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > >>"The way the scam works is that they give you a contract plus a $1
> > advance in exchange for you signing away all rights - digital,
> > electronic, print, film - in perpetuity, which means that should your
> > book ever do good despite them giving you almost no help at all, they
> > will take the lion's share of whatever it makes."
>
> As stated by Joyce, this is not true.

Until recently, it was all too true. Their contract is still no prize.

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > >>"You have to fully edit, proofread, and digitally prepare the book
> > for publication. Publish America has the necessary proprietary (Adobe
> > Acrobat) software to transform what you give them into something which
> > a third party, Lightning Books, turns into a paperback."
>
> Also not true. In my contract it specifically states that PA is to
> proofread AND edit my work.

Real proofreading and real editing are expensive and time-consuming,
and I have yet to hear of a PA author who was the recipient of a
full-scale free edit from them. I've seen comments from lots of PA
authors who were severely disappointed by the quality of the work done
on their books.

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > >>"Like drugs, you get the first couple free. Any you want thereafter
> > will cost you two to three times the going rate for paperbacks (more
> > if you live in Canada). Imagine paying upwards of $19.95 for a 200
> > page paperback!
>
> Canadians recieve a 55% discount from PA. Unless the bookstore is
> greedy and wants to keep the discount, a 55% discount rate with a 40%
> hike will make a $19.95 paperback US $21.95 Canadian. May books from
> TOR that are first run paperbacks by unknown authors (Dance of Knives
> comes to mind) are that price.

Tor, not TOR. It's not an acronym.

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > Nor does
> > Publish America lift a finger to promote your book."
>
> I have an interesting article written by Raymond Fiest about a time
> when HIS publisher wouldn't promote his book due to poor advance
> sales. If you want it I'd be happy to send it.

There's a difference between being young Ray Feist, trying to get your
publishers to use their promotional resources on your book, and being
published by a house that has no sales force and no promotional clout
to start with.

> > In an earlier thread, Joyce Scarborough wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > The author gets two free copies.
>
> I got more. Contracts are made to be negotiated. Anything, within
> reason, can be changed.

How many more?

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > >>"So how do they make their money? This is where the scam gets really
> > dirty.
> > They expect you to take advantage of your relationship with friends
> > and
> > family. That's right, they want you to get Mom and Dad and Uncle Jack
> > and
> > everyone you know at school or work to buy the book.
>
> How is this different from any other publisher? If my friends and
> family won't buy my book I'll be very upset!

Other publishers don't base their profit and loss calculations on the
assumption that your friends and relations will be your primary
audience.

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:
> > >>"Then, ever so gradually, they take control of your life. In my
> > case, they decided they didn't like my homepage on the internet and
> > ordered me to change it.
>
> The only one I've ever heard of that happening to was a guy who posted
> his entire book FOR FREE on the Internet. NO publisher would allow
> that!

First, you are misinformed. It has been done, by conventionally
published authors, with the blessing of their publishers.

Second, saying that you haven't previously heard of this happening to
anyone doesn't mean Fred Dungan is wrong when he says it happened to
him.

James D. Macdonald

unread,
Jun 18, 2003, 5:53:42 PM6/18/03
to

> > In an earlier thread, Fred Dungan wrote about PublishAmerica:


> > >>"Like drugs, you get the first couple free. Any you want thereafter
> > will cost
> > you two to three times the going rate for paperbacks (more if you live
> > in
> > Canada). Imagine paying upwards of $19.95 for a 200 page paperback!
>
> Canadians recieve a 55% discount from PA. Unless the bookstore is
> greedy and wants to keep the discount, a 55% discount rate with a 40%
> hike will make a $19.95 paperback US $21.95 Canadian. May books from
> TOR that are first run paperbacks by unknown authors (Dance of Knives
> comes to mind) are that price.
>


Say what? _Dance of Knives_ was a paperback reprint of a hardcover
original, was over four hundred pages long, and cost $15.95 US.

Best,
Jim

James

unread,
Jun 18, 2003, 9:13:30 PM6/18/03
to
> Until recently, it was all too true. Their contract is still no prize.

The key words being "until recently". Things change, go with it. Stop
reporting old, out of print news.

> Real proofreading and real editing are expensive and time-consuming,
> and I have yet to hear of a PA author who was the recipient of a
> full-scale free edit from them. I've seen comments from lots of PA
> authors who were severely disappointed by the quality of the work done
> on their books.

I've heard a lot of PA authors sing loud praises at the job their
editor did.

> Tor, not TOR. It's not an acronym.

Hey, when you have no more facts to back up your argument at least I
gave you SOMETHING.

> There's a difference between being young Ray Feist, trying to get your
> publishers to use their promotional resources on your book, and being
> published by a house that has no sales force and no promotional clout
> to start with.

Did you miss the part that said the publisher WASN'T giving Mr. Feist
their promotional resources for his book? You really should ask me for
the article.

> > I got more. Contracts are made to be negotiated. Anything, within
> > reason, can be changed.
>
> How many more?

I don't discuss the fine points of my contract. It would make other PA
authors feel bad.

> Other publishers don't base their profit and loss calculations on the
> assumption that your friends and relations will be your primary
> audience.

Who do you think is the primary audience for new, unheard of authors?

> > The only one I've ever heard of that happening to was a guy who posted
> > his entire book FOR FREE on the Internet. NO publisher would allow
> > that!
>
> First, you are misinformed. It has been done, by conventionally
> published authors, with the blessing of their publishers.

Are you saying that conventionally published authors, with the
blessing of their publisher, have published their entire manuscript on
the Internet for free?
Name me ONE (and I want the website).

> Second, saying that you haven't previously heard of this happening to
> anyone doesn't mean Fred Dungan is wrong when he says it happened to
> him.

I'm sure it has. What I'm saying is that he probably isn't giving out
the full facts in his crusade.

James

Berry Kercheval

unread,
Jun 18, 2003, 10:26:14 PM6/18/03
to
polite...@hotmail.com (James) writes:
> Are you saying that conventionally published authors, with the
> blessing of their publisher, have published their entire manuscript on
> the Internet for free?
> Name me ONE (and I want the website).

Apart from non-fiction, there's:

Cory Doctorow, DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM, http://www.craphound.com/down/download.php

The Baen Free Library: http://www.baen.com/library/ has over 50 entire books
by:

Aaron Allston, Christopher Anvil, Lois McMaster Bujold, Paul Chafe,
Rick Cook, John Dalmas, David Drake, Linda Evans, Eric Flint, Michael
Flynn, Dave Freer, Mark A. Garland, Ellen Guon, Karen Koehler,
Mercedes Lackey, Keith Laumer, Holly Lisle, Duncan Long, Charles
G. McGraw, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, John Ringo, James H. Schmitz,
D. W. St. John, David Weber and K. D. Wentworth


Will that do?

James D. Macdonald

unread,
Jun 19, 2003, 10:31:06 AM6/19/03
to

[snip]

> > There's a difference between being young Ray Feist, trying to get your
> > publishers to use their promotional resources on your book, and being
> > published by a house that has no sales force and no promotional clout
> > to start with.
>
> Did you miss the part that said the publisher WASN'T giving Mr. Feist
> their promotional resources for his book? You really should ask me for
> the article.
>

This is a common misconception among authors. There is lots and lots
of promotion that happens along the way to putting a book on the
bookstore shelf -- editorial promoting the book to the sales force,
the sales force promoting the book to bookstore buyers, and the
bookstore (by virtue of having the book on the shelf if nothing else)
promoting the book to the readers. Copies go to major reviewers well
in advance of the book's release, all at no cost to the author.

Every legitimately published book has at least that level of
promotion, even the books of the young Ray Feist. No vanity published
book gets it, including the offerings of Publish America. This
promotion is invisible to the author, but that doesn't stop it from
existing, and being valuable. (Check out how much time and effort --
generally futile -- the PA authors spend on trying to get their books
into stores. The Publish America authors' message board is a thing of
wonder. It breaks my heart to read it.)


[snip]

>
> > Other publishers don't base their profit and loss calculations on the
> > assumption that your friends and relations will be your primary
> > audience.
>
> Who do you think is the primary audience for new, unheard of authors?

If you're talking about vanity publishing, you're right.

If you're talking about traditional publishing, the primary audience
is thousands and thousands of total strangers.

The vanity presses use smoke, mirrors, and fast talk to try to hide
that fact, but a moment's thought will tell you that it's true.

Best,
Jim

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 21, 2003, 9:16:03 PM6/21/03
to
> > Until recently, it was all too true. Their contract is still no prize.
>
> The key words being "until recently". Things change, go with it. Stop
> reporting old, out of print news.

I did not report it. Fred Dungan reported it. You said he was not
telling the truth. I said that what he said was, until recently, the
truth.

As I'm sure you'd agree under normal circumstances, there's a
difference between asserting something that was never true, and saying
something that until recently was true when you weren't aware that it
had changed. I merely observed that he belonged in the latter
category.

You're being extremely defensive, you know.

And by the way: Even with that change, the PA contract is still no
prize.

> > Real proofreading and real editing are expensive and time-consuming,


> > and I have yet to hear of a PA author who was the recipient of a
> > full-scale free edit from them. I've seen comments from lots of PA
> > authors who were severely disappointed by the quality of the work done
> > on their books.
>
> I've heard a lot of PA authors sing loud praises at the job their
> editor did.

Name two. Then tell me where and by whom they'd ever been edited
before.

> > Tor, not TOR. It's not an acronym.
>
> Hey, when you have no more facts to back up your argument at least I
> gave you SOMETHING.

I'm sorry, but I can't tell what you mean by that. Do you want to try
again to explain it?



> > There's a difference between being young Ray Feist, trying to get your
> > publishers to use their promotional resources on your book, and being
> > published by a house that has no sales force and no promotional clout
> > to start with.
>
> Did you miss the part that said the publisher WASN'T giving Mr. Feist
> their promotional resources for his book? You really should ask me for
> the article.

If I needed to re-read the article, I'd ask Ray Feist for it.

As Jim Macdonald has also explained, the promo resources Ray wanted
and wasn't getting were the house's additional, discretionary
resources. Those get distributed unevenly among authors, more or less
where the publisher thinks they'll do the most good. (Naturally,
authors always think they'll do the most good if applied to their
books.)

But that's just some extra promotion. What's more important is that
all the books on that publisher's list have gotten far more promotion
than that already. What I'm about to describe is roughly how it's
handled at a big trade publisher. There are differences from house to
house, but considerable similarity in the overall outlines.

Start with tip sheets or title information sheets. You'd probably
think they were odd but very informative press releases, if you saw
one. They've gone out to everyone in sales & marketing. If it's a
mass-market book, the information on these sheets may have been
printed on the backs of loose uncreased copies of the book's cover.
These are called cover flats. All the cover flats for a month's books,
plus various other bits of promotional material and sales information,
will have been tucked into a two-pocket folder called a sales kit. The
sales force will take these with them when they make sales calls, and
will use them to help sell the book.

There's also our overall catalog for the season, which contains a lot
of the same information. These get distributed in vast numbers to
people who sell books. These days that information also gets piped to
the online booksellers, which is why our books show up on Amazon and
B&N, with a picture of the cover and a description of the contents,
before the book is even out.

If the book's a hardcover, there's a good chance that as soon as the
first-pass page proofs came in from the typesetter, a set of them was
sent to be used as the master copy for making bound galleys. These
usually have colored paper covers, and look like little trade
paperbacks. The text is uncorrected because the book is going through
proofreading at the same time the galleys are being manufactured.
There's a notice on the cover saying so. Bound galleys are sent out to
the big review venues like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and
Booklist, which won't review books that have less than a month to go
before being published. They'll be sent to other review venues as
well, often accompanied by a press release.

Sometimes the publisher will have galleys made up even earlier, and
will send them out to a specially selected list of authors, asking
whether they would like to read the book and send a quote to be used
on the cover. Some do, some don't.

Whether the book's mass-market or trade, it'll have been presented to
the sales force at a sales conference, with lots of slides and
explanatory text and heartfelt recommendations.

Tor editors used to go to sales conferences, but these days we trek up
the street a couple of blocks to a professional recording studio,
where we tape our presentations, one for each book. They're like
low-key little infomercials. These are tidied up and compiled into a
set of audiotapes, which are duplicated and sent out to all the sales
force so they can listen to them as they drive between sales calls.

I'm probably forgetting some stuff.

Note what isn't in this description: author tours, print ads,
corrugation (those cardboard stands in the bookstores), radio spots,
fancy bookmarks, etc. Those are all part of the discretionary promo
resources. What I've been describing in the foregoing paragraphs is
what our books get as a matter of course. And while all of it is
important, it's the sales force that sells the books. Everything else
is there to help them do it.

And one other note, because I've known people to be confused about
this: It's all free -- editing, proofreading, typesetting, cover
design, original cover art, advertising, sales, marketing, publicity,
copyright registration, the works. And it's not charged against the
author's royalties. The royalties are a percentage of cover price,
calculated on gross sales less returns.

> > > I got more. Contracts are made to be negotiated. Anything, within
> > > reason, can be changed.
> >
> > How many more?
>
> I don't discuss the fine points of my contract. It would make other PA
> authors feel bad.

Then I'm sure you'll forgive me for imagining that it's not a lot more
than anyone else gets.

> > Other publishers don't base their profit and loss calculations on the
> > assumption that your friends and relations will be your primary
> > audience.
>
> Who do you think is the primary audience for new, unheard of authors?

The same audience there is for any other authors: Readers. If they've
read and enjoyed a previous book of yours, you've got an in -- but
everyone was once an unknown author.

The way to look at your chances is not in terms of knowns and
unknowns. That doesn't help you to understand the problem. What
matters is whether you've written the kind of book people want to
read, and will enjoy, and will recommend to their friends. If you've
done that, chances are extremely high that you'll be published, sell
lots of copies, and have readers clamoring for your next.

If you've written a book that doesn't have that effect, your chances
of success aren't nearly so good.

Finally, if you truly think being unknown is the big problem, what
makes you think getting published by PA is going to help?

> > > The only one I've ever heard of that happening to was a guy who posted
> > > his entire book FOR FREE on the Internet. NO publisher would allow
> > > that!
> >
> > First, you are misinformed. It has been done, by conventionally
> > published authors, with the blessing of their publishers.
>
> Are you saying that conventionally published authors, with the
> blessing of their publisher, have published their entire manuscript on
> the Internet for free?
> Name me ONE (and I want the website).

You must not have looked very hard. Baen has been putting its books
online for years now, as you'll see from Berry Kercheval's list. To it
I'll add Orson Scott Card -- I don't know whether he's still posting
his books on AOL as he writes them, but he did it for years -- and
John Scalzi, who published his own book online and then had it bought
by Tor.

I'm sure there are more.

Are you now going to apologize to Fred Dungan?

> > Second, saying that you haven't previously heard of this happening to
> > anyone doesn't mean Fred Dungan is wrong when he says it happened to
> > him.
>
> I'm sure it has. What I'm saying is that he probably isn't giving out
> the full facts in his crusade.

If you know where he hasn't given the full facts, say so. If you know
of some objective reason that we should doubt his general veracity,
you should say that as well. Where you can do neither, you have no
right to suggest that he's not giving us the most accurate picture he
can manage.

I'll give you a general suggestion in return. Have you noticed how
many of the happy authors on the PA message boards were recently
published? No mystery there; it's a joy to see your words in print in
a book, no matter how the thing turns out. That's true no matter who
publishes you. And there's hope at the beginning of all new
enterprises.

Go through and see how many happy, successful authors you can find
whose books were published two or three years ago.

Cheers --

Teresa Nielsen Hayden
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 21, 2003, 9:27:39 PM6/21/03
to
y...@sff.net (James D. Macdonald) wrote in message news:<62f34873.03061...@posting.google.com>...

Yup. Furthermore, it's a first novel by a newbie author. So much for
the supposed impossibility of getting published by a conventional
publisher when you're an unknown writer.

-t.

James

unread,
Jun 22, 2003, 12:28:07 AM6/22/03
to
Berry Kercheval <be...@kerch.com> wrote in message news:<wwptlal...@dzur.kerch.com>...
> Will that do?

No. The first one I couldn't even figure out who the publisher was
(his distribution was sketchy, too) and the second is a publisher
site. The publisher, who retains the exclusive right TO PUBLISH the
book, can do with it whatever they want.

Maybe I wasn't clear. Name me ONE author who has published a book with
a major commercial publisher (one we've all heard of) and posted his
entire manuscript for free on his PERSONAL website.

James

James

unread,
Jun 22, 2003, 12:33:57 AM6/22/03
to
y...@sff.net (James D. Macdonald) wrote in message news:<62f34873.03061...@posting.google.com>...
>
> This is a common misconception among authors. There is lots and lots
> of promotion that happens along the way to putting a book on the
> bookstore shelf -- editorial promoting the book to the sales force,
> the sales force promoting the book to bookstore buyers, and the
> bookstore (by virtue of having the book on the shelf if nothing else)
> promoting the book to the readers. Copies go to major reviewers well
> in advance of the book's release, all at no cost to the author.

Maybe I should let you know that I've been working in the book retail
world for the last decade. I've managed, ordered, been the one who
spoke to reps, threw out the million or so reading copies that never
get read (at least they get recycled), and seen the hundreds of
catalogues that don't get looked at. Even with small publishers, the
amount of "promotion" of which you speak goes relatively unnoticed in
the real world. The only people that believe the reading copies and
catalogues get read are the editors that produce them.

As for review copies, PA will send review copies free of charge with


no cost to the author.

> If you're talking about traditional publishing, the primary audience


> is thousands and thousands of total strangers.

I'm willing to bet I've been to more book launches in a week than you
have all month and I'll tell you one thing: with new authors, if
anyone shows up, it's their friends and family.
Their books last a year on the shelf (if they're lucky).

James

John Scalzi

unread,
Jun 22, 2003, 12:36:53 PM6/22/03
to
t...@panix.com (T. Nielsen Hayden) wrote in message news:<a007368d.0306...@posting.google.com>...

> polite...@hotmail.com (James) wrote in message news:<48e9be89.03061...@posting.google.com>...
> >
> > Are you saying that conventionally published authors, with the
> > blessing of their publisher, have published their entire manuscript on
> > the Internet for free?
> > Name me ONE (and I want the website).
>
> You must not have looked very hard. Baen has been putting its books
> online for years now, as you'll see from Berry Kercheval's list. To it
> I'll add Orson Scott Card -- I don't know whether he's still posting
> his books on AOL as he writes them, but he did it for years -- and
> John Scalzi, who published his own book online and then had it bought
> by Tor.

There's also _Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom_ by Cory Doctorow
(Tor), which is entirely available online at the same time as it's out
in the bookstores.

In my particular case I published the novel as a serial and also
allowed people to download the entire manuscript for $1.50 prior to it
being bought by Tor. That novel, _Old Man's War_ is no longer
available online; once I sold it, I took it down. I should note that
in discussions, the brain trust of Tor was perfectly willing to try
having it remain online. But I decided all things being equal I should
bring it down from the site (I have another complete novel which is
still up, however).

John Scalzi
www.scalzi.com

Berry Kercheval

unread,
Jun 22, 2003, 12:53:05 PM6/22/03
to
polite...@hotmail.com (James) writes:
> No. The first one I couldn't even figure out who the publisher was

That's pathetically easy. It's a Tor trade paperback, as it happens.

> (his distribution was sketchy, too) and the second is a publisher
> site. The publisher, who retains the exclusive right TO PUBLISH the
> book, can do with it whatever they want.

No they can't. They can do WHAT THEY BUY THE RIGHTS TO DO. Typical
book contracts do not include the right to put the book up ont he
Internet for free. The author must agree to that in addition to First
North American Book Rights.

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 22, 2003, 11:42:17 PM6/22/03
to
polite...@hotmail.com (James) wrote in message news:<48e9be89.0306...@posting.google.com>...

> Berry Kercheval <be...@kerch.com> wrote in message news:<wwptlal...@dzur.kerch.com>...
> > Will that do?
>
> No. The first one I couldn't even figure out who the publisher was
> (his distribution was sketchy, too)

I'm sorry, James, but I can't believe you honestly looked for
information about Cory Doctorow and his book. Why? Because if there's
one thing the web doesn't have, it's a paucity of information about
Cory Doctorow. Technorati rates his weblog, BoingBoing, as the #4
weblog on the planet, linked to by 1,873 other weblogs:

http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/top100.html

If you just type his name into Google, you get circa 30,600 hits. The
first two hits are BoingBoing. The third website Google lists is "The
Literary Works of Cory Doctorow":

http://www.craphound.com/

The fourth is =Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom=:

http://www.craphound.com/down/

There's just no way you could type "Cory Doctorow" into a search
engine and not have continent-sized masses of data come your way.

As for his distribution, it was exceedingly good. He got distributed
like any other Tor book, and he also distributed a vast number of
copies electronically.

> and the second is a publisher site. The publisher, who retains the
> exclusive right TO PUBLISH the book, can do with it whatever they want.

You have misunderstood why this is relevant. If putting books up on
the web in their entirety is so damaging that no publisher would
consent to it, then it doesn't matter whether the book is posted by
the author or the publisher.

> Maybe I wasn't clear. Name me ONE author who has published a book with
> a major commercial publisher (one we've all heard of) and posted his
> entire manuscript for free on his PERSONAL website.

No. You tell me why those added specifications matter.

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 22, 2003, 11:49:15 PM6/22/03
to
Berry Kercheval <be...@kerch.com> wrote in message news:<wwwufe9...@dzur.kerch.com>...

Saying that this is a matter of rights is irrelevant, since your
original argument was that posting an entire book to the web when it
was being published elsewhere was such an obviously wrong thing to do
that no reasonable publisher would ever consent to it.

Electronic rights and first North American rights are two unconnected
rights, and they're only two out of a long list of separate but
related rights.

-tnh

James D. Macdonald

unread,
Jun 23, 2003, 12:21:09 AM6/23/03
to
polite...@hotmail.com (James) wrote in message news:<48e9be89.03062...@posting.google.com>...

> y...@sff.net (James D. Macdonald) wrote in message news:<62f34873.03061...@posting.google.com>...
> >
> > This is a common misconception among authors. There is lots and lots
> > of promotion that happens along the way to putting a book on the
> > bookstore shelf -- editorial promoting the book to the sales force,
> > the sales force promoting the book to bookstore buyers, and the
> > bookstore (by virtue of having the book on the shelf if nothing else)
> > promoting the book to the readers. Copies go to major reviewers well
> > in advance of the book's release, all at no cost to the author.
>
> Maybe I should let you know that I've been working in the book retail
> world for the last decade. I've managed, ordered, been the one who
> spoke to reps, threw out the million or so reading copies that never
> get read (at least they get recycled), and seen the hundreds of
> catalogues that don't get looked at. Even with small publishers, the
> amount of "promotion" of which you speak goes relatively unnoticed in
> the real world. The only people that believe the reading copies and
> catalogues get read are the editors that produce them.
>

Maybe I should tell you that I'm a multiply-published novelist.
Galleys and ARCs do get read. Maybe not by you, but they do get read.
By people with purchasing decision power. By people who write
reviews that matter.

How is it that bookstores keep filling the shelves with new books,
including the books of first-time authors? Why is it that those books
(with rare exceptions on a local level) are from traditional
publishing houses, not from vanity presses, not from PA? Isn't it
true that the publicity that the traditional publishing houses are
doing just happens to work, and is done at no expense to the author?

I'm talking real world here. This is checkable. The bookstore owners
have to put books on their shelves. Where do those books come from?
Why are those books selected rather than others? You know the answers
to those questions, and you know that "Publish America" isn't any part
of the answer.

> As for review copies, PA will send review copies free of charge with
> no cost to the author.
>

Really? Let's see what Tim Johnson, PA author, has to say about that:
"I remember author support telling me that if I wanted a review, then
the potential reviewer would have to contact them."
http://www.publishamerica.com/cgi-bin/pamessageboard/data/main/6326.htm

Yep, uh-hunh. That's the way it works, all right.

I'm seeing posts from authors who bought copies of their own books to
send to reviewers. I'm not seeing anything to suggest that PA
automatically sends their upcoming month's releases to a list of major
reviewers.


> > If you're talking about traditional publishing, the primary audience
> > is thousands and thousands of total strangers.
>
> I'm willing to bet I've been to more book launches in a week than you
> have all month and I'll tell you one thing: with new authors, if
> anyone shows up, it's their friends and family.
> Their books last a year on the shelf (if they're lucky).
>

Book launches? That's a whole 'nother subject. I've been talking
about the audience for novels. You and I both know that the audience
for any traditionally published novel is thousands of total strangers.
The audience for any vanity published novel is mom, her bridge club,
dad, and the guys in the author's carpool.

Even when a self- or vanity-published author goes in person to a local
independent bookstore and arranges to leave half-a-dozen copies on
consignment, that doesn't do anything for the bookstores in the next
street, the next town, or the next state.

Book launches, now -- those are bits of publicity that most authors
(such as the young Ray Feist) don't get as a matter of course. That's
because for most authors it's a waste of their time and the
publisher's money.

There are only two reasons to hold a book launch. One is when there's
a cohort of people out there who will buy the next book by a given
author the day it comes out, sight unseen. They're standing by,
slavering, for the next King, the next Grisham, the next Clancy, the
next Collins, the next Creighton. The book launch is for that cohort.
It flatters them. It tells them "Yes, the author you think is
important really is important."

The other is when you have an author who you want to feel Loved and
Warm and Appreciated. You can throw a book launch for him, as a perq,
so he'll feel good and won't move to another publisher.

Book launches aren't meant to sell books. They're celebratory. The
part that the unsophisticated viewer sees isn't the important part.

There's a third kind of book launch -- the one the author throws for
himself. Those would be the book launches for unknown first-time
authors. It's still celebratory. It's still a waste of time.

Generally speaking, if everyone who came to a book launch bought a
copy and no one else did, that book would sink without a trace.

On the general subject of PoD books, you might be amused by this
article:
http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/depts/rk0307.htm -- "My Week as a PoD
Person" by Robert Killheffer.

On PoDs and bookstores, try this article:
http://www.holtuncensored.com/members/column208.html -- "The
Revolution in Print On Demand" by Pat Holt.

Best,
Jim

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 23, 2003, 12:54:48 AM6/23/03
to
polite...@hotmail.com (James) wrote in message news:<48e9be89.03062...@posting.google.com>...

> y...@sff.net (James D. Macdonald) wrote in message news:<62f34873.03061...@posting.google.com>...
> >
> > This is a common misconception among authors. There is lots and lots
> > of promotion that happens along the way to putting a book on the
> > bookstore shelf -- editorial promoting the book to the sales force,
> > the sales force promoting the book to bookstore buyers, and the
> > bookstore (by virtue of having the book on the shelf if nothing else)
> > promoting the book to the readers. Copies go to major reviewers well
> > in advance of the book's release, all at no cost to the author.
>
> Maybe I should let you know that I've been working in the book retail
> world for the last decade. I've managed, ordered, been the one who
> spoke to reps, threw out the million or so reading copies that never
> get read (at least they get recycled),

Reading copies? The bound galleys we have made up aren't sent to
bookstores, unless they specifically request one and we have a spare.
They're sent to reviewers. Perhaps you're thinking of some other
object?

> and seen the hundreds of catalogues that don't get looked at.

You didn't look at catalogs? Did you just take whatever your
distributor gave you?

> Even with small publishers, the
> amount of "promotion" of which you speak goes relatively unnoticed in
> the real world. The only people that believe the reading copies and
> catalogues get read are the editors that produce them.

I'm sorry, but you don't know what you're talking about.

I hope this doesn't mean you're one of those writers who, because they
can't get published, decide the publishing industry doesn't work. We
do know what happens with our galleys and catalogs.

> As for review copies, PA will send review copies free of charge with
> no cost to the author.

Both free of charge and at no cost to the author? I'm impressed.

If the reviewer has to take the initiative to request a review copy,
and has to do it after the book has come out, you're going to get
sparse reviews in distinctly minor venues. No doubt it will be
pleasant to see your book reviewed, but the reviews won't sell more
than a scattering of copies.

> > If you're talking about traditional publishing, the primary audience
> > is thousands and thousands of total strangers.
>
> I'm willing to bet I've been to more book launches in a week than you
> have all month

Launch parties have very little to do with sales. Most books don't
have them.

I haven't been to a launch party in years. Publicists throw them for
flossy books that are stories in their own right, like if John Gotti's
daughter has written a book -- stuff like that. The only time we ever
threw a launch party for one of my authors was when his book came out
while he was being Guest of Honor at the Worldcon. We had a nice
little afternoon social.

Actually, most of the book launches I've been to were thrown by the
authors: A little wine, a little cheese, some upscale crackers and
sliced baguettes, a stack of books to give away, a lot of industry
gossip. Pleasant occasions. But they sold no boks.

> and I'll tell you one thing: with new authors, if
> anyone shows up, it's their friends and family.
> Their books last a year on the shelf (if they're lucky).

I've been to signings where no one showed up. It was painful. I took
my authors out afterward to cheer them up. And mind you, these were
selling authors. The publicity had been almost nonexistent. Bang-up
signings are for authors who are already selling very well.

What you say about first-time authors can't be true. If it were, where
would all those second- and third-time authors come from? And the
other reason I know it's not true is that I've seen actual sales
figures for many first-time authors. It wasn't just their families and
friends.

-tnh

Berry Kercheval

unread,
Jun 23, 2003, 1:34:53 PM6/23/03
to
t...@panix.com (T. Nielsen Hayden) writes:
> Saying that this is a matter of rights is irrelevant, since your
> original argument was that posting an entire book to the web when it
> was being published elsewhere was such an obviously wrong thing to do
> that no reasonable publisher would ever consent to it.

I'm not arguing with you, I was just correcting the original poster's
assertion that the publisher "can do whatever they like" with a book.
The publisher can only do what the contract allows.

I agree this is at best a side issue and apologize for the tangent.

James

unread,
Jun 29, 2003, 11:28:52 PM6/29/03
to
Just so we're clear this will be the last post I make here as the
conversation is about to become circular.

When you can show me a website where an author provides his entire
manuscript for free on the Internet (thus lessoning its value for the
publisher - copyright aside) where the publisher has not agreed that
it is permissable under their contract you will have a case.

Until then all you arte doing is saying that in some instances
publishers have either provided websites or allowed under their
contracts that their authors can post thier entire book on the website
for free. The original intent of this thread was to show that Fred's
actions lessoned the percieved value of his book and therefore that
went against the contract bewteen him and his publisher and PA had
every right not to publish his work.

If you need to contact me you can use my email address. But I am
walking away from this futile discussion.

James

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 30, 2003, 2:59:08 PM6/30/03
to
> Just so we're clear this will be the last post I make here as the
> conversation is about to become circular.

Hi there, James.

You came back to make one more post here, because last night I said on
the Mindsight Forum that you had bailed out on this conversation. The
matter of published authors posting entire books to the web is only
one of the issues that was being discussed here. You abandoned the
rest in mid-air. But since anyone who can read this message can see
the other messages in this short but pithy thread, I'll leave the
readers to draw their own conclusions.

As to the matter of published authors posting their books on the web:

You initially tried to discredit Fred Dungan by quoting a remark of
his in another thread, where he said, in re PublishAmerica:

FRED: "Then, ever so gradually, they take control of your

life. In my case, they decided they didn't like my
homepage on the internet and ordered me to change it."

Anent which, you said:

JAMES: Are you saying that conventionally published authors,

with the blessing of their publisher, have published
their entire manuscript on the Internet for free? Name
me ONE (and I want the website).

And then I said:

TNH: ...[Y]ou are misinformed. It has been done, by conven-


tionally published authors, with the blessing of their

publishers.

Berry Kercheval replied that, nonfiction aside, there's Cory
Doctorow's DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM,
http://www.craphound.com/down/download.php. There's also the Baen Free
Library at http://www.baen.com/library/, which has the complete texts
of more than 50 books by Aaron Allston, Christopher Anvil, Lois


Bujold, Paul Chafe, Rick Cook, John Dalmas, David Drake, Linda Evans,

Eric Flint, Michael Flynn, Dave Freer, Mark Garland, Ellen Guon, Karen


Koehler, Mercedes Lackey, Keith Laumer, Holly Lisle, Duncan Long,

Charles McGraw, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, John Ringo, James H.
Schmitz, D.W. St. John, David Weber, and K.D. Wentworth.

BERRY: Will that do?

I regret to say that at this point you started fibbing. Here's the
first half of what you said:

JAMES: No. The first one I couldn't even figure out who the
publisher was (his distribution was sketchy, too)...

BERRY: That's pathetically easy. It's a Tor trade paperback,
as it happens.

You didn't respond to Berry. And you know, James, given your fondness
for "correcting" people, I have to think that if you'd looked at the
book on Amazon (where it is in fact pathetically easy to find), you'd
have mentioned that Berry's mistaken, and that it's a Tor hardcover.

You didn't respond to me, either, when I pointed out in message
<a007368d.03062...@posting.google.com> that Cory Doctorow
isn't just well-documented in the online universe, but is quite
possibly the most web-present individual on this planet. For instance,
Cory's the leading light of BoingBoing, a wildly popular weblog (see
Technorati for the numbers), where he has frequently mentioned his
novels.

TNH: If you just type his name into Google, you get circa

30,600 hits. The first two hits are BoingBoing. The
third website Google lists is "The Literary Works of
Cory Doctorow":

http://www.craphound.com/

The fourth is =Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom=:

http://www.craphound.com/down/

Cory's been the subject of numerous interviews and articles, in major
venues, about him, his ideas, his book, and his free distribution of
his book as e-text concurrent with its hardcover publication. He's
been plugged by Jeff Bezos, featured on the O'Reilly Network, and
reviewed by all the genre reviewers plus the =New York Times=, the
=Times= of London, NASA's astrobiology magazine, and lord knows who
else. There's even a DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM webring. And
throughout all that, Cory's been very good about mentioning his
publisher.

As for his book's supposedly "sketchy distribution", the hardcover was
widely distributed by Tor and is doing very well. On top of that, over
75,000 copies of the electronic version were downloaded from Cory's
site in the first month after its release. DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC
KINGDOM has been a remarkably well-distributed book.

Summary: You weren't just mistaken. You were demonstrably not telling
the truth -- and alas, your fibs were both instantly disprovable and
ludicrously wrong.

PublishAmerica is not worth what you're doing to your own soul on
their behalf.

Let's move on to the second half of your message, where you dismissed
the fifty-odd titles, by established professional authors, that have
for some time now been available from the Baen Free Library:

JAMES: ...and the second is a publisher site. The publisher,

who retains the exclusive right TO PUBLISH the book,
can do with it whatever they want.

As a sidenote, you never responded to Berry, who said:

BERRY: No they can't. They can do WHAT THEY BUY THE

RIGHTS TO DO. Typical book contracts do not
include the right to put the book up on the
Internet for free. The author must agree to
that in addition to First North American Book
Rights.

Berry's right. And furthermore, the rights granted in a legit
publishing contract aren't necessarily exclusive.

I keep telling you, that PublishAmerica contract is no prize.

Anyway, your post ended:

JAMES: Maybe I wasn't clear. Name me ONE author who has

published a book with a major commercial publisher (one

we've all heard of) and posted his entire manuscript
for free on his PERSONAL website.

Just to get your immediate question out of the way: Tor, Cory
Doctorow. Tor, Orson Scott Card. I doubt that's the complete list of
Tor authors who've done it, and can't imagine other authors and other
houses haven't done it as well.

But while my point there is accurate, it technically ought not be
relevant, because what I'm responding to is your own attempt to shift
the terms of the argument. (If you do manage to justify the shift, the
refutation will be there waiting for you. It's nice to be beforehand
with one's work.)

You originally challenged all comers to name (1.) conventionally
published authors (2.) who'd made entire works of theirs available on
the internet for free (3.) with the blessing of their publishers. And
as we said, that description covers Cory Doctorow, Scott Card, and the
entire lineup of the Baen Free Library. (Also some shorter works by
Robert Jordan, though I didn't say so at the time.)

This is a relevant issue. I'm not just scoring points off a technical
error in the structure of your argument. Your original point was that
making one's entire text freely available on the web was so obviously
disadvantageous that no publisher could possibly consent to it. And as
I observed, in yet another point you never responded to,

TNH: If putting books up on the web in their entirety is

so damaging that no publisher would consent to it,
then it doesn't matter whether the book is posted by
the author or the publisher.

If you now want to argue that that damage is incurred when the author
puts the book up on his own website, but not when the publisher does
so, it's up to you to tell me what the difference is, and explain how
it works. The ball's in your court.

Do remember to allow for the fact that if this is being done under the
terms of a standard publishing contract, the author[s] and publisher
will have explicitly agreed who has these rights.

Your latest post attempts to shift the grounds still further.

> When you can show me a website where an author provides his entire
> manuscript for free on the Internet

=Vide supra=, Doctorow and Card. You're repeating a question that's
already been answered.

> (thus lessoning its value for the publisher --

Not so fast. And by the way, it's "lessening".

You're implicitly asserting that posting a book on the web necessarily
diminishes its value to its conventional publisher. Baen hasn't
observed this to be the case, and lord knows Cory Doctorow is selling.
(Word of power alert: =prima facie=.) If you want to argue that
posting the entire text of a book necessarily diminishes its value,
you're the one who'll have to convincingly substantiate the point.

Naturally, one wouldn't want to have the text distributed
electronically, if doing so were specifically disallowed by the
contract, or distributed by third parties who have no rights in the
matter; but those are separate issues.

> -- copyright aside)

Irrelevant. The belief that one loses one's copyright on material by
posting it on the internet is a vulgar error.

> where the publisher ...

I reject your attempted implication that what we're discussing are the
harmful effects of the author, as opposed to the publisher, making the
text of a book available online. That distinction is not relevant
within the original terms of your argument, and persuasive new
arguments (or even half-assed new arguments) establishing its
relevance have not yet been forthcoming. That ball's still in your
court.

> ... has not agreed that it is permissable under their contract.

Hold it right there, buckaroo. And by the way, it's "permissible".

You started this whole argument talking about "...conventionally
published authors, [who] with the blessing of their publisher, have
published their entire manuscript on the Internet for free."

Let me repeat that: "with the blessing of their publisher." Which you
said in English, using the Roman alphabet typed left-to-right, in this
same thread in this same newsgroup, only a few days ago, and less than
twenty messages back up the thread.

If you thought I somehow wouldn't notice that you were pulling a fast
one, you are a miserable pismire, and not nearly as clever as you
think. If on the other hand you simply made an honest error -- that is
to say, if you couldn't keep track of the basic terms of your own
argument, when you had them right there in print where you could
consult them at your leisure -- then you have a long, long way to go
before you're in a position to tell anyone else whether or not they
have a case.

But let's suppose you had honestly been arguing that from the start.
In that case, it would basically have been an argument about
contractual language and obligations. However, given your stated
belief that a publishing contract necessarily gives the publisher the
exclusive right to publish the book, but to "do with it whatever they
want," I doubt you'd have carried the day.

Over on the main SFWA site, there's a full-scale publishing contract
available for your examination. I strongly urge you to do so for your
own good.

And just to tidy things up: If you had been arguing that altered
proposition from the start, the portions of this thread that discuss
sales & marketing and advertising & promotion at conventional
publishing houses, plus certain strange beliefs regarding launch
parties, would be unaffected.

> you will have a case.

I swear, it's like watching a six-year-old trying to deal off the
bottom of the deck.

> Until then all you arte doing is saying that in some instances
> publishers have either provided websites or allowed under their
> contracts that their authors can post thier entire book on the website
> for free.

Nope. I know exactly what I said. Would you could do the same.

> The original intent of this thread was to show that Fred's
> actions lessoned the percieved value of his book and therefore that
> went against the contract bewteen him and his publisher and PA had
> every right not to publish his work.

If I have this correctly, you're a young author, very new to all this,
and your only connection with PublishAmerica is that they're
publishing your first book. If so:

1. Tell me, honestly: Why do you care what happened to Fred? Tell me
I'm wrong in thinking that you're trying to convince yourself that
PublishAmerica are the good guys, and that what happened to Fred was
all his fault, because you don't want to consider the potential
implications for your own future if the reverse turned out to be true.

2. What's your information source on PublishAmerica's perceptions of
the altered value of Fred's book? That would be real insider
information at any publishing house I've ever dealt with. Also, how is
it that you know the exact terms of Fred's contract?

3. You don't seem to know much about publishing contracts and
publishing law. Can you please explain how you arrived at the
conclusion that Fred's actions were in violation of that contract, and
your further conclusion that PublishAmerica was therefore entitled to
take his book out of print for the remainder of the term of his
contract?

4. You said earlier that Fred isn't telling the whole story. On what
information not available to the rest of us do you base this belief,
and how did you come by it?

Kid, I'll freely admit what I'm about to say is partly a guess. I
could easily be wrong, and if so I apologize. But: if PA is feeding
you supposed insider information and sending you out to fight their
battles, you're being taken in by a very old trick. The desire to know
secrets, and be in on things that others aren't, is one of the great
underappreciated temptations of this world. It's also one of the few
temptations that's really effective when used on those who are young,
idealistic, not hitherto especially corrupt, and accustomed to think
well of their own intelligence.

At this point you're going to tell me I'm wrong whether I am or not.
That's okay.

> If you need to contact me you can use my email address. But I am
> walking away from this futile discussion.

Gotcha! You looked!

You're new at this, right? People who say things like that =always=
come back to look.

Be well, and do please try to take care of yourself.

Sincerely,

tnh

Berry Kercheval

unread,
Jun 30, 2003, 4:49:42 PM6/30/03
to
t...@panix.com (T. Nielsen Hayden) writes:
> You didn't respond to Berry. And you know, James, given your fondness
> for "correcting" people, I have to think that if you'd looked at the
> book on Amazon (where it is in fact pathetically easy to find), you'd
> have mentioned that Berry's mistaken, and that it's a Tor hardcover.


My mistake, and my apologies for the error.

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jun 30, 2003, 9:30:04 PM6/30/03
to

> The original intent of this thread was to show that Fred's


> actions lessoned the percieved value of his book and therefore that
> went against the contract bewteen him and his publisher and PA had
> every right not to publish his work.

Belatedly, the obvious question occurs to me: If PA feels that Fred's
book has no value, why don't they give it back to him? It's what any
real publisher would do.

-tnh

James D. Macdonald

unread,
Jun 30, 2003, 10:13:20 PM6/30/03
to
> Just so we're clear this will be the last post I make here as the
> conversation is about to become circular.
>

What's been shown is that PublishAmerica's contract:

1) Takes rights that PA is unwilling or unable to exploit (e.g.
electronic display), and,
2) Does not revert all rights to the author if it is no longer making
the work available for sale.

Which is no more than to say that PA has a poor contract. But we knew
that coming in.

I pass over PA's high prices for its books, its lack of promotion and
distribution, its inability to get books on physical bookstore
shelves, its lack of editorial standards, its poor production values,
and its low sales, since James does not mention them in his farewell.

> When you can show me a website where an author provides his entire
> manuscript for free on the Internet (thus lessoning its value for the
> publisher - copyright aside) where the publisher has not agreed that
> it is permissable under their contract you will have a case.
>

It's not up to me to prove a case -- this was your example that you
brought up. Show me how publishing the full text of a novel on the
web diminishes its value and _you_ might have a case. (You are aware,
BTW, that notorious PoD vanity press iUniverse also publishes the full
texts of its works on the web? Do they believe this diminishes the
value of the works? Why or why not? Be specific; use examples.)

> Until then all you arte doing is saying that in some instances
> publishers have either provided websites or allowed under their
> contracts that their authors can post thier entire book on the website
> for free. The original intent of this thread was to show that Fred's
> actions lessoned the percieved value of his book and therefore that
> went against the contract bewteen him and his publisher and PA had
> every right not to publish his work.
>

The publisher doesn't have the right not-to-publish the work unless
the author signed a bad contract. If the publisher refuses to
publish, or withdraws the book, the author should get all rights back,
on the spot. Do I take it you're conceding that PA offers a bad
contract?

Was there a reversion clause in your contract? If so, would you
please post that clause? If you don't have a reversion clause, why
not?

> If you need to contact me you can use my email address. But I am
> walking away from this futile discussion.
>
> James

I wish you a happy life, and every success. I hope that you'll stop
in a year from today to let us know how your book is doing.

Best,
Jim

T. Nielsen Hayden

unread,
Jul 1, 2003, 12:48:08 AM7/1/03
to
Berry Kercheval <be...@kerch.com> wrote in message news:<wwwuf3m...@dzur.kerch.com>...

No apologies necessary. It was an insignificant error, mentioned only
for its diagnostic use. My apologies to you for not making that
clearer.

-tnh

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